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Practice speeds top 200 m.p.h. at Daytona

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff  February 22, 2012 01:39 PM

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Matt Kenseth's No. 17 Ford was the fastest car in today's practice session for the Daytona 500 (Associated Press)


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. --- Greetings from Daytona International Speedway, where track activity has resumed after two dark days to begin preparations for Thursday's Gatorade Duels, a pair of 150-mile qualifying heats that will set the 43-car field for Sunday's 54th running of the Daytona 500.

As was the case during Sunday's pole qualifying, in which the Fords of Roush Fenway Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle swept the front row, with Edwards capturing the pole with a fast lap of 194.783 miles per hour, the Blue Oval Gang from Ford Racing remained atop the speed chart today in the first of two Sprint Cup practice sessions.

Roush Fenway Racing driver Matt Kenseth pushed the pace above the 200 m.p.h. barrier when he toured the 2.5-mile tri-oval at Daytona with a lap of 200.853. He was one of six drivers during the session to top 200, the first four Ford drivers.

Trevor Bayne, the defending Daytona 500 winner, was second fastest in his No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford in 200.817.

The top five in practice: 1. Kenseth, Ford, 200.853; 2. Bayne, Ford, 200.817; 3. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 200.673; 4. Marcos Ambros, Ford, 200.673; 5. Mark Martin, Toyota, 200.196; 6. Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 200.133.

Edwards dropped by the media center after practice and indicated he was happy to have his crew chief, Bob Osborne, back atop the pit box. Osborne was absent from the track this weekend to attend his father's funeral and did not preside over Edwards' pole victory. Chip Bolin, the No. 99's head engineer, sat in for Osborne.

"think Bobís doing really well,'' Edwards said, when asked about his grieving crew chief. "Heís a tough guy. Itís neat to see him back here at the race track. I canít speak for him, but I think heís enjoying it. I walked into the hauler this morning and he had the pole trophy sitting there on the desk. I hope the week ends well for him and that we have some fun and we have a solid run.''

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